For nine days in October, all was quiet at Villa Godiola whilst our Physical Theatre and Music students were off galavanting through Europe. Read on to hear about the Fall Break adventures of Simon, Ally, Liv, Laura, and DeLanté!
Simon Evans (Muhlenberg College, PA)
I learned two things over break, the first is that Europeans are terrified easily, and the second is that Germans are not afraid to get messy on stage. The first, I learned as I trekked through the Berlin Dungeons, a tourist trap, which calls itself a historical haunted house, telling us stories of the murderers and plagues which have swept through Berlin. Haunted house is high praise however, and my first lesson was learned as the Europeans surrounding me shrieked and shivered their way through an hour of fake blood, plastic props, and animatronic scares. Mini lesson, when in Berlin, do not go to the Berlin Dungeons.
Lesson two was much more enjoyable. I managed to get front row tickets to Hamlet (in German of course) and here I quickly realized that I need to work on European theatre and be allowed to do the things they do. The list of things which would not be allowed in America would take up this whole page, but suffice it to say, there was blood (buckets of it), dripping hearts, decapitation and nudity, and the stage ended covered in all of these things and more. Europeans are not afraid to get messy, and unlike in America that mess is not an indication of an intermission to allow the stage crew to clean up, it’s a constant barrage.
Ally Merrill (Muhlenberg College, PA)
Three incredible cities. Eight different travel companions. A ridiculous amount of money spent on food that I won’t disclose. Fall Break was a whirlwind, and I am better for it. After arriving to my friend’s place in London at four in the morning on Saturday (five hours later than we planned), I braced myself for the rest of break to be a bumpy ride. But to my delight, after our one major traveling snafu (EasyJet, I haven’t yet forgiven you), the rest was smooth sailing. Two friends and I spent our time in London touring the sets of the Harry Potter films, eating fish & chips, sipping cider, and taking an embarrassing amount of pictures of Big Ben from atop the London Eye and the guards at Buckingham Palace. When I walked around the busy streets, I could start to picture myself living there, which is a rarity for me. In the short time I was there it seemed to have a vibrant cultural scene without too fast of a pace. It was also especially nice to meet my friend from high school, who is spending her semester there studying creative writing.
Next on the list was Amsterdam, which was, quite unexpectedly, my favorite city of them all. I flew there alone to meet four different friends. From the beautiful canals to the hundreds of clothing stores to the quirky architecture to the delicious waffles, Amsterdam was the perfect balance of urban activity and traditional European aesthetic for my taste, and I instantly fell in love. The museums were also a joy to explore – I visited the Van Gogh Museum where I saw Munch’s sketch of “The Scream” as well as numerous Van Gogh classics such as the “Sunflowers” and the “Self-Portraits.” I also went to the Rijksmusem, which boasts hundreds of classic pieces from centuries and centuries past. I don’t remember a time where I last felt so alive as I did in Amsterdam – my heart was so full with adventure and passion to discover all the new things around me. As for my artistic senses, I felt the urge to imbibe all the culture I experienced and bring this inspiration to my work at the Accademia. If I could be as present and as open as I was in Amsterdam in every acting class I take, then my job as an actor would be a piece of cake!
And as for my third destination: Berlin. I can walk away from this experience with memories to last me a lifetime to share with friends and family alike. The edgy art culture, gorgeous duomo and intense nightclubs where a sight to behold, and although I had fun I don’t think I’ll be returning there very soon.
During break I learned about my preferences in terms of culture, environment, and people, which I plan on filing away in my brain for future life decisions. All of these aspects of life are essential to me in creating a successful artistic environment for myself, as well as just having more knowledge about this great big world around us.
Ciao Fall Break, you were loved and will be missed! Xoxo, Ally
Liv Amundsen (Muhlenberg College, PA)
Though quite stressful to plan, fall break was one of the most entertaining and memorable adventures I have ever had. After a few weeks of working out hostel and transportation details, fall break came and off we flew to London for five days and Prague for three after that.
London, though embarrassingly expensive, was alive and oozing with art. After seeing the sights and doing headstands in front of Parliament, we began exploring the city at our own pace. We saw “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime,” a piece that was beautiful in every aspect. Next, we saw “Measure for Measure” performed at the New Vic, a new adaptation of the comedy by Shakespeare highlighting important social issues about women’s choice. This play reminded me of the different ways to use different forms of art with the goal of making art about today’s social issues. On stage, there were many moments in which the actors picked up a video camera and the medium became film. Collaboration and experimentation in new art forms are definitely two things I will be consistently thinking of for the remainder of my time at the Accademia.
As we traveled to Prauge, my wallet was relieved, but my artistic interest was further peaked. Throughout the city are exhibits of all forms of art. One of the most remarkable art instillations was the Monument to the Victims of Communism. Behind a man were duplicates, but each one was missing holes and parts of his structure. Art works like this were installed all over the city (along with a few slightly terrifying large baby statues). Though the language barrier made it slightly different to communicate with locals, an appreciation of art was quite universal.
As we begin our second half at the Accademia, I will take with me the fun that I had during fall break, along with the important understanding of universal, collaborative, and social art that we are all capable of making.
Laura McCullagh (Skidmore College, NY)
So fall break was a lot of fun…I spent the week in Amsterdam with the lovely and talented Sage King. Honestly, there’s a lot I could write about when it comes to the time we spent there, but, this being an art program, and a blog post from the point of view of that art program, I’ll focus on the art. And oh boyo was there art.
One of our first days there, we took a ferry across the channel behind Amsterdam Central Station. It took us to one of the most interesting places I have ever been. It’s an old, disused shipping yard in which all of the shipping containers have been turned into apartments for….you guessed it…artists. Those creative rascals. So we wandered around there for a while, and stumbled upon a giant out-of-use boat ramp. The whole thing, the walls, the ground, the steps were all covered in street art. Faces, names, political messages, all spray-painted beautifully on the concrete. And goodness knows how many layers of art are painted over. Four years ago, someone there would not have seen the same art, and in four years, it will not be the same art. Each piece contained a unique message from a unique point of view, naturally curated in this one location.
The next day, we spent almost four hours in the Van Gogh museum. I only cried twice, which is honestly pretty miraculous. It was incredible going from a day of street art to a museum of carefully presented Van Gogh. The most incredible thing to me though, were the similarities I started to draw between the two. In his day Van Gogh was a pretty rebellious guy in terms of his art. He was technically very gifted and he worked hard to cultivate his own unique style that would grow to become almost universally recognizable.
Between the two, I started to solidify my view that art doesn’t have to be nice. It doesn’t need to be kind, beautiful, or even remotely flattering. The power of art lies in the moments that make us cringe and feel like our perspective needs to change in order to see things more realistically. Both of these art forms existed and exist as a form of rebellion. Van Gogh showed us the difference in classes, the difference in lifestyles, and that art does not have to flatter. Street art shows us that many of our concepts of value are deeply rooted in greed at a societal level, and need to change in order to allow art and culture to flourish. Art is a vehicle for change, and it was amazing to see the transformation of what the forward edge of art looks like over the course of two days.
DeLanté Fludd (George Washington University, DC)
For my fall break, I ventured off to Amsterdam and Paris. These cities fascinated me because they are both filled with culture and attractions that bring people from all corners of the earth. I traveled with one other person from the theatre group, which made getting around easy. We started in Amsterdam where we were given a break from having to communicate in a language that we were just learning. The only trouble was that Dutch is not a language that was comprehensible to either of us. At this point I missed Italian. I found myself going to order food or greet people in Italian only to realize that they probably wouldn’t understand me. Luckily for us, most people spoke English. In Amsterdam we were fully immersed in the city, seeing things like the Red Light District, the canals, the Anne Frank House and much more. We also got a mix of cultures, as there was food from many different places. My partner and I saved up and put our money together to go to an Argentinean steakhouse, which seemed to be on almost every corner of Amsterdam.
From there we caught a bus to Paris and this was another culture shock as French was not something either of us were used to. We then had the task of locating our hotel, which was just outside of Paris. This allowed us to get familiar with the train system in Paris. The same day we went to Disneyland Paris where art, culture, and fun collided. Most people here spoke English also and we again felt at home. In watching the parade, I felt inspired to fully embody any character that I was given. The people in the parade had to exaggerate their movements so that anyone in the park could see them and understand how they felt in that moment. I related this in my head to how we act in Commedia. Every gesture that you do must be related to the audience and they not only have to understand what you’re doing but how you feel when you’re doing it. The next day I spent time with a friend in Paris and got to see sights like the Eiffel Tower, which I made strong opinions about. People look at it and see beauty, but I look at it and see no purpose. For me it represents Paris and France, but aesthetically it is just a waste of space. I know that is a very strong opinion, but it’s merely how I felt about the piece of art. Overall, it was nice to take a break from classes and just get to explore a new place, but I truly missed Italy and more so, Arezzo which has definitely become a home away from home.